A quarrel broke out between Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, the current government’s refugee minister and a prominent leader of the US-appointed terrorist organization Haqqani network, sources told BBC Pashto.
According to a Taliban source, the two exchanged strong words while their supporters clashed with each other nearby.
The news of an internal rift comes as speculation has increased over the disappearance of the Islamist group’s two top figures – Supreme Leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada and Deputy Prime Minister Baradar – from the public.
Baradar was also absent from the delegation of ministers who met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday – an occasion he would normally have attended.
The Taliban has denied both reports of cracks and rumors as “baseless propaganda”.
Baradar, one of the group’s co-founders and head of the Taliban’s political office, was named the next prime minister by Taliban officials. But instead he became the first deputy to the caretaker Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund.
Baradar was also the first Taliban leader to communicate directly with then-US President Donald Trump and sign the Doha Agreement in February 2020. He is considered a “moderate” in the leadership.
It is said that the arguments took place in Kabul when Baradar was dissatisfied with the composition of the new cabinet and there was disagreement about who would take credit for their victory in Afghanistan.
Baradar reportedly wanted to focus on the diplomatic efforts for which he was largely responsible, while the Haqqani group placed greater emphasis on the military victory that paved the way for the takeover.
The Haqqani network has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the United States, and its head, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has been given the position Acting Minister of the Interior even though the FBI put a $ 10 million premium on its head.
The network is connected to some of the worst attacks in Afghanistan against foreign forces and the Afghan government.
Baradar went to Kandahar after arguments at the end of last week, a spokesman said. But he seemed to contradict this later and told BBC Pashto that he was “tired and wanted to rest”.
However, speculation has continued about the stay of Akhundzada, who has not been seen since the Taliban took over on August 15.